Community pharmacist’s role in detecting low back pain, and patient attitudes—a cross-sectional observational study in italian community pharmacies

SGCP, Corrado Giua, Paola Minghetti, Giorgio Gandolini, Paolo Rocco, Elisa Arancio, Teresa Bevacqua, Nicolina Floris, Enrico Keber, Umberto M. Musazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most frequent diseases for which patients seek advice in a community pharmacy. The study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of the administration by community pharmacists of questionnaires to assess the LBP intensity and disability degree in patients entering community pharmacies and the attitudes they have toward pain management by pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies. Methods: An explorative, cross-sectional, observational, and quantitative study was performed. Twelve Italian community pharmacists were asked to submit a questionnaire on LBP to patients visiting their pharmacies. The questionnaire included a pain intensity scale, and two validated tools: the Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the Start Back Screening Tool (SBST) to determine the degree and risk of patient disability, respectively. Results: 872 patients filled out the questionnaires in 6 months. No statistical differences between genders (p > 0.30) were recorded for pain intensity (Female: median score 6, IQR 4–7; Male: median scores 5, IQR 4–7; p > 0.30) and disability associated with LBP (RMDQ high-disability level: Females, 14.7%, Males, 15.0%; p > 0.90). Most of the patients (69%) reported a low degree of disability, but the risk of disability was medium and high in 36% and 18% of them, respectively (p < 0.05). About 14% of patients declare to never seek for physician’s advice despite their medium-high degree of disability. Conclusion: The study demonstrated the feasibility of validated tools for assessing the degree and risk of disability in LBP patients administrable in community pharmacies. Moreover, the community pharmacy resulted in an important care portal for patients suffering from moderate LBP and for intercepting patients who suffered from severe LBP but had never reported their problem to their physician.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5965
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2 2020


  • Community pharmacy
  • Low back pain
  • Roland and Morris disability questionnaire
  • Start back screening tool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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